By T.J. Buffenbarger
(August 31, 2019) – Labor Day weekend in the Great Lakes State kicked off on the sunset side of the mitten at Hartford Motor Speedway with the Lane Automotive Sprints on Dirt. Here are a few takeaways from Friday’s program.
• Chad Blonde’s rebound from mechanical issues earlier in the night made for a great story Friday at Hartford Motor Speedway. Blonde was unable to register a qualifying lap and had to start at the tail of his heat race. Blonde’s crew quickly diagnosed a fuel pump as the issue and were able to make repairs in time for Blonde to fire the car just after qualifying was complete.
All good comebacks need some luck. After finishing third in the second heat race Blonde was slated last of the six drivers to draw for their starting spots at the front of the A-Main. By the time Blonde drew only the pole position was left in the bag.
Early it appeared Blonde would dominate the 25-lap affair, but mid-race cautions allowed Ryan Ruhl to challenge. After a caution erased his sizeable lead more cautions at the end helped Blonde secure it with two restarts that allowed him to separate from Ruhl for the victory.
• Friday’s feature was full of comebacks with Zane Devault and Quentin Blonde recovering from flat tires to score top five finishes. Blonde’s flat was heartbreaking in what was the best I had seen him run in person driving up to second and appearing like he had some speed to challenge Chad for the lead.
As the SOD season comes down the stretch don’t sleep on Devault or Blonde to pick up a feature win before the year is out. Both showed speed at Hartford and would have made things interesting without suffering flat tires earlier in the race.
• Speaking of flat tires things were getting physical mid-pack and I ended up seeing more flat front tires in one feature than I typically see in the work area in an entire season. Both Devault and Josh Turner suffered flat front tires.
• After the World of Outlaws show I expressed my feelings on the track reshape and surface conditions at Hartford. While I’m still not a fan of how the track is shaped, with most of the meaningful passing taking place in turns one and two, the racing surface was light years better during the SOD event on Friday compared to the World of Outlaws visit earlier in the year. The track ended up with just enough moisture while slicking off nicely to allow some side by side racing and not blinding the patrons with dust. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come next season.